December 11, 2013 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Three local Lake Orion students spent their Thanksgiving thrashing through a BMX course in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the 2013 USA BMX Grand National.
They learned the skill at a local business owned by Lake Orion resident Brad Davis which converted almost half of a warehouse into a BMX training facility.
Vert Village BMX is a 10,000 square foot park that has been open for almost three years at the moving and storage company Central Michigan Movers. Kids as young as three years old and adults up to 60 ride BMX bikes around the course training for competition or just generally riding for improvement.
The team belongs to a group called USA BMX and races with six people. Local races at Waterford Oaks BMX, the second oldest track in the world, located behind the Waterford Wave Pool on Scott Lake Rd, have honed Davis's racers throughout the years.
Three of his racers made it to nationals.
Max Davis (Orion Oaks Elementary), Brad Davis' son competed in the Nine Expert division, taking second. Davis helps train seven-year-old Oxford resident Ryder Speagle (Paint Creek Elementary), who competed in the Seven Expert division along with six year-old Trey Pochmara (Orion Oaks Elementary) who rode in the Six Intermediate.
Davis works with his son, Speagle and Ryder every day, racing them around the track in preparation.
"I pick them up from school. They get here about 4 p.m. They have a little snack, and then homework's first. We sit down on the benches. We get our homework done, and then we go out there and ride our bikes and have fun.
"It's kind of cool because they ride for a while, get a little tired, and we'll finish up some homework, and ride some more," Davis said.
Ranking goes from novice, to intermediate to expert. Max Davis is the highest proficiency he can be before he "goes pro," which he must be 18 years old to do.
"My little guy can do about 23 to 24 mph around this track in here. This track is 300 feet, so when we practice we do laps of four and five at a time," Brad Davis said. "Show her an ET," he told Max.
Max Davis launched over a vert, viciously peddling in the air, just like E.T.
Racing is all about speed. Whoever can get around the track the quickest of seven other competitors, while launching vertical jumps, making tight turns on half-pipe styled walls, wins. The tallest jump at Vert Village is about eight feet high, comparable to the dirt-packed jumps at nationals.
Racers also practice on vert walls, from 12 feet high to 14 feet high. Racers roll off a 10 foot deck down to the ground level to jump the jumps and make laps around the course.
"We have our bumps and bruises just like any other sport. It's not any different from baseball or football or anything. It's all the same,. It's a sport, and you take it as far as you want to go," Brad Davis said.
Davis's team, called Motor City BMX, is sponsored by Made in Detroit Clothing and various different companies located within the bicycle industry.
The first race on Friday, November 29 was called the Race of Champions, or the Roc Race, the state race pitting state against state.
"California always wins. They're the biggest ones out there," Brad Davis said. "Michigan's right behind them, even though it's seasonal, we're right there."
Saturday and Sunday was the Grand National, the accumulation of all the national races around the U.S. The six best scores over the year, along with the scores from Grand Nationals, and average them.
Some of Brad Davis's kids are rated fifth in the nation, one is rated seventh and another is in 10th.
Pochmara, the Sixth Intermediate racer, was undefeated at Grand Nationals. He raced a total of 16 times down there, and won every single lap.
Speagle took a third in the Roc Race, and placed seventh in the Grand National race.
Max Davis took a second in the Roc race, which is "the best he's ever done," and made it to the semi-finals at Grand Nationals, the top 16 racers in the nation.
"It's great for him to make it that far because it's unbelievable the competition," his father said.
Max is 48 inches high, and 54 pounds. Some of the kids he races down there are well over 5 feet tall and pushing 110 pounds, Brad Davis said.
"Max has a really good power to weight ratio, so even though he's small. This isn't a sport that's all about being the biggest person. It's about being the quickest person, and he's quick. A lot of the kids he beat are twice the size of him."
The main thing is having fun, Brad Davis said, the kids, parents and trainers.
"Once the kids get into it, the next thing you know the daughters are riding," Brad Davis said.
He has two girls on the team that race and are national champions, one girl was invited to go out to the Olympic training center in California this year as a 15 year old.
Out of 80 teams in the nation, Motor City BMX took fourth.
Unlike many other parks, Vert Village has a full weight room, and Davis teaches the kids to eat healthy. Davis says he gets freestyle kids, racers, community bikers, and even young kids.
It's helping out the community. We've got a lot of young kids that come in here that maybe they're going in the wrong direction. Once they come in here and get on a bicycle, that's all they wanna do is ride their bicycle.
"There's nothing in Lake Orion. If you're not into baseball, football, soccer, what do we have for these kids to do? When you drive by a soccer field, football field, a baseball field , 99 percent of the time they're empty.
"You can drive by any BMX park in the US any time of the day, and there's kids riding there. Every person in the world, I don't care who you are, has ridden a bike one time or the other in their life. It's our passion," Brad Davis said.